Are you a driver or an influencer?

Psychologist Nathaniel Brendon said, “The first step to change is awareness.”

And as someone who has studied leadership for years, let me assure you: he is right!

In order to bring about change of any kind – as we leaders are charged with doing – we must gain awareness… awareness of what could be, of what currently is, and that change is necessary at all.

You can’t “play a game” if you don’t “have all the pieces.”

Let me tell you how this point was made clear to me.

When I was in automotive development, I thought that leadership was a competition. I went in hard trying to get the best results on my project and far surpass every other project leader in every meeting.

I wanted to report record-breaking numbers while everyone else was reporting delays.

I worked my team very hard, and I produced incredible results. We were producing ahead of schedule and I was lauded by many above me for my results.

I did not know that people were undermining my leadership.

I did not know that my team did not respect me.

I did not know that they were only following me because I was the project leader, and that they were not invested at all in the project itself.

I was not aware of any of this until I began to see that I had ignored a crucial aspect of leadership: I was not developing relationships with any of my people.

I saw leaders in this company, people who had been with the organization since almost as long as I had been alive, and how they approached their people… how they walked slowly through the halls approaching people and getting to know them.

And I saw that their teams followed them willingly because of it.

I saw that their longevity, their reputation, and their influence came from how they interacted with their people and showed them that they cared about them.

Once I had that awareness, I saw that my own leadership was lacking. Even though my team had great numbers, even though I was getting pats on the back from those above me, I was wearing my people out.

And I was bolstering an image of myself that rested entirely on my title and authority rather than my ability to develop people with grander capacity.

I was missing so much, leaving so much potential for change on the table, facing a wide gap that in years since, I have begun to close.

I have begun to walk a little slower myself, because,

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”

(Maya Angelou).

I learned that there must be a healthy balance between drive and influence.

Results and relationships.

Competition and collaboration.

Power and partnerships.

A leader must be both an aspirer and a connector; both of these have their necessary functions and roles in leadership.

And that awareness has made all the difference in my leadership.

Where does your focus naturally fall?

Are you a driver or an influencer?

Do you take the important time to get to know your people?

Do you place more emphasis on relationships than you do results, or vice versa?

Awareness is the first step toward striking that balance just right.

I want to equip you to gain the awareness that makes a difference. Click here to take a leadership assessment that helps you know where to go by showing you where you are.

That’s all for now.

Until next time,


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